Consecration Acres

"If ye labor with all your might, I will consecrate that spot that it shall be made holy."

Of birds, cranberries and things in the pantry

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It has been quite the last couple of weeks. We have been dealing with nearly perpetual illness, most recently something flu-ish that I’m dealing with today. Nothing has lasted very long, but days sick multiplied by the number of people who have to catch it, means that we have had only a couple days in the last month when everyone was completely well. Is complete wellness just something one has to give up on with a big family—like leftovers and the laundry or dishes ever being completely done?

On Friday, my husband and Isaiah butchered 15 of the meat birds. Elijah started off helping, but started showing symptoms of this latest illness and had to stop. The process went a bit more smoothly than and the birds were definitely bigger—they appeared close to grocery bird weight, though I have yet to weigh one. My husband wanted to try cooking one up for dinner, so they heated up a dutch oven and worked as quickly as they could to get it cooking before rigor mortis set in. They did pretty well. It was a little rubbery, but far from inedible. In fact, it tasted very much like…chicken. So, we’ve done it—eaten our first home-grown meat! What a project…and not yet done…20 more to go… And the birds were 20 weeks old. I imagine we can improve on our time and feed requirements.

BTW, the chickens loved their expanded run a la electric poultry netting and we had no more issues with predation after the boys set it up. Unfortunately, some of the birds figured out how to flap over the fence and did so regularly, much to Isaiah’s dismay. As the only one who could catch the escapees, he was hard at it for a couple of days there. He has voted to clip wings if we end up doing this again.

I’m also thinking that the hens in that flock should be laying by now. Are their eggs being eaten? Have we created another (egg-eating) monster? This does seem to be the year for monsters.

To make room for chickens, I’ve been working to clear out the freezer (yes, our new, nearly 15 cubic ft freezer was well on its way to being too full for the chickens) and have cooked up the last of last year’s turkeys and a ham. Some cooked meat and stock went back in again, but the volume is greatly reduced. I tried making ham stock for the first time. It is very strong, but I think a little will be a good addition to potato or split pea soup.

I also went ahead a canned up 20 lbs of cranberries to prevent their using valuable freezer space`. My yield was about 3 pints per 2 lb package, which means that when it all comes crashing down, we’ll be eating cranberries. One can survive anything with enough cranberries. I had another bag that I mixed into some apple butter yesterday. After it reduces, I’ll add cinnamon and star anise. Even as unwell as I’m feeling right now, my heart skips a beat at the thought.

The sourdough continues fabulously. For the sake of keeping notes:

  • It does best rising in quite a warm environment. My oven with the light on (around 105F) is perfect.
  • That much heat will dry it out during three-ish hours of rise time. Cover with a damp cloth.
  • I let it rise for just half an hour plus the oven preheating time once it’s in the bread pans. It doesn’t gain much notable loft during that time, but I have found that the oven rise is quite good with this recipe.
  • My children are funny. I found a single slice of bread, carefully wrapped in plastic wrap, hidden in the pantry last week. I ate it, of course. Wouldn’t want it to go to waste if the hider forgot about it… I also have competition for the heels now that Elijah’s discovered that the crust is the most flavorful part of the bread. Wow. He must really be approaching adulthood.

The panty moths are horrible again, but they seem not to have re-invaded the drawer where I used diatomaceous earth. I hope that this is a good sign. The information I’ve found on eliminating pantry moths has been pretty ridiculously involved and likely impossible with a whole bunch of kids leaving things open and hiding sourdough bread. If I could just use DE, pheromone traps and a reasonable amount of cleaning. I would be pretty happy. I am really tired of moths.

Finally, the question on everyone’s lips, are the goats bred? We don’t know and we really need find out as December is our last shot at it. I am calling the vet this week. I need to factor veterinary ultrasounds into my “should we keep a buck?” comparative cost analysis.

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